Good affordable homes matter

Affordable housing blog

Adur Collective Community Land Trust (ACCLT) was set up because we believed that thriving communities must have decent, secure homes that everyone can afford – be it to buy or rent.  Young people need to leave home, families need to put down roots for their children’s stability, key workers need to live near their place of work and that for older people with reduced incomes the cost of housing was a problem.

We knew that average houses prices in Adur were higher than the UK average but average earnings were lower. There was no social housing being built yet there was a substantial housing waiting list. Even when developers met their 30% affordable housing quota under their planning obligations, the majority of these were shared ownership homes which were still unaffordable for many Adur residents.

Our vision was to develop or to rejuvenate homes that would be owned by ACCLT (which is a Community Benefit Society) with rents linked to local earnings.  The homes couldn’t be sold off for profit and linking the rent to earnings would mean they would remain truly affordable in perpetuity. Sustainability was core to our thinking both in allowing people to securely put down roots and in creating low energy, environmentally sound homes. Our vision also including linking procurement to local training and trading opportunities.

We are very encouraged therefore, to see Adur and Worthing Council’s recent Delivering Pathways to Affordable Homes report.

From where we stand, the report recognises a number of very important things: that development is more than simply building houses; the delivery of homes should help communities thrive and that “good affordable homes matter”. It recognises that the government’s definition of affordability and the reliance of delivery by developers has not resulted in affordable homes being truly accessible to the majority of Adur residents.

The central concept of their housing strategy 2020-2023 is now “for everyone to have a place they can call home, whether it is owned, shared or rented”.

The report goes on: “As a stock owning Council with a need and ambition to regenerate its existing stock, Adur District Council will self deliver a minimum of 200 homes and help enable to deliver of 750 affordable homes by others”.

The council appear to be taking a holistic approach that will see them partner with a range of organisations that can deliver homes “to bridge the gap between market sale, affordable and social housing in order to provide all households with a route to their own home should they choose or if not to a secure and an affordable rental property in the private or social sector”.

The councils stated ambition is to integrate their approach to housing with other commitments to jobs and the environment.  For example: by exploring Modern Methods of Construction they hope to create jobs, develop new skills and reduce the impact of development on water, energy use and biodiversity.

The community mapping exercise that is currently being undertaken is understood to be the starting point for conversations with communities “around ownership and the potential for community led housing development via vehicles such as community land trusts which can form an important strategic element of community development”.

Overall, ACCLT applauds the council’s direction of travel and their commitment to increasing the supply of affordable housing which meets the needs of people at different stages of their life.  ACCLT looks forward to building a positive and creative relationship with the new Homes and Communities Enabling Officer being appointed so that community led homes can be part of the solution to the affordable homes problem.  We feel that there is much in the report that mirrors our own vision. 

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